Oliver birthday girl foregoes gifts to help others

Oliver birthday girl foregoes gifts to help others

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It was a gift to last for Highway to Healing when five-year-old Vienna von Burg (wearing blue H2H shirt) donated her birthday gifts to help families with sick children. In back from left are H2H director Ernie Dumais, Isaac Jones, and director Gail Barriskill. In middle from left are Brittany von Burg, Sydney von Burg (on lap), Vienna, Kadence Newstead, Abby Wolfe, and Landen Newstead. In front is Alexis Newstead. Lyonel Doherty photo
It was a gift to last for Highway to Healing when five-year-old Vienna von Burg (wearing blue H2H shirt) donated her birthday gifts to help families with sick children. In back from left are H2H director Ernie Dumais, Isaac Jones, and director Gail Barriskill. In middle from left are Brittany von Burg, Sydney von Burg (on lap), Vienna,  Kadence Newstead, Abby Wolfe, and Landen Newstead. In front is Alexis Newstead.                Lyonel Doherty photo
It was a gift to last for Highway to Healing when five-year-old Vienna von Burg (wearing blue H2H shirt) donated her birthday gifts to help families with sick children. In back from left are H2H director Ernie Dumais, Isaac Jones, and director Gail Barriskill. In middle from left are Brittany von Burg, Sydney von Burg (on lap), Vienna, Kadence Newstead, Abby Wolfe, and Landen Newstead. In front is Alexis Newstead. Lyonel Doherty photo

Not too many five year olds would give up their birthday presents to help other children. But that’s what Vienna von Burg did.

“It brings tears to our eyes,” said Ernie Dumais, director of Highway to Healing (H2H) Support Society, the charity that Vienna donated to.

The society helps local families with travel and accommodation expenses when their children need treatment in hospital. Last year the charity assisted six families.

“It’s good to help other people,” Vienna said. “I want to do it again next year.”

It all started when Vienna and her dad were cleaning out her room prior to her birthday. They became aware of the large amount of toys she had accumulated over the years.

“My husband and I researched local charities when we moved here in June from Calgary, and Highway to Healing hit home for us because we could be in the same situation as any of these families,” said Vienna’s mom, Brittany von Burg.

“We talked to Vienna about the amount of toys she has and asked her if she needed to get toys for her birthday. She said she didn’t and then we talked to her about what H2H does for families.”

Brittany said the main focus of their discussion was children being sick and needing their parents by their side. This would mean that parents couldn’t work and keep up with expenses.

When asked why she chose to donate to H2H, Vienna responded: “So they (the children) can be with their parents when they are going through something scary.”

The girl said giving up her presents to help these families made her feel good inside.

Vienna was so proud of the shirt she received from H2H that she wore it to bed that evening.

Dumais said Highway to Healing has really been a roller coaster ride – up when people give generously – down when children get sick and need help.

For a child to give up her birthday presents, that is such a nice gesture that has a big impact on the program, Dumais said.

“We like to encourage third-party fundraising.”

Shari Rowland, a teacher at Oliver Elementary School where Vienna attends, said the girl is “such a sweetheart with a lot of personality.”

Vice-Principal Karen Sinclair couldn’t agree more. “We are very proud of Vienna. It’s a wonderful gesture, especially coming from someone so young.”

Sinclair said they try to teach all of their students to think of others.

For more information on Highway to Healing and how you can help, visit www.highwaytohealing.org, or call 250-498-7811.

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